Weston Literary Festival

Justin Newland with copies of his books. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Justin Newland with copies of his books. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

Celebrating the written word, Weston Literary Festival returns for its 3rd year with some fascinating events lined up for budding authors and book lovers alike.

This year the main body of the event moves to Weston Museum on Burlington Street. Activities and guests were still being added to the itinerary as the Resident prepared to print, but the initial line up already looks enticing.

The week-long event, that will run from February 29-March 6, encompassing World Book Day on March 5, will include an action packed programme that will offer something for all the family.

A three hour script workshop will explore dramatic conflict and what drives it, character development and writing dialogue. In addition, a 'Hidden' panel discussion will delve into the secrets of famous Italian artists, the birth of photography, the Spanish civil war and the deep fakery of artificial intelligence.

The final line-up is expected to also include poetry readings, a variety of talks, children's authors, storytelling and tips on everything from writing to self-publishing.

The museum will host a free children's event on World Book Day between 3-5pm for a fun-filled two hours celebrating all things wordy! Joined by author Sue Purkiss, from Cheddar, who amongst other books, wrote about the adventures of Jack Fortune, this promises to be a very special afternoon. Joining Sue will be local author, Michelle Cassar, with her wonderful story of Seb and Polly Planet on their ocean quest. Michelle, who lives in Weston, raised more than £7,000 by crowdfunding to publish her first book, taking advance orders for the book prior to publication.

With events still being added to the programme, keep up-to-date with the latest additions by visiting the Facebook page @westonlitfest. Alternatively, call 01934 632567 for more information. Tickets can be purchased online or from Weston Museum.

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Dr Justin Newland unveils his third novel

Just as the Weston Literary Festival gets underway, local author Dr Justin Newland will launch his latest book, The Coronation and as part of the town's celebration of literature he will be holding a book signing at Waterstones in the Sovereign Centre.

The author writes secret histories in which real events and historical figures are guided and motivated by numinous and supernatural forces - history with a supernatural twist. Talking about his latest novel, he said: "The Coronation is set during the Great Enlightenment, revealing the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. Did you really think this was how it was meant to be? This novel explores the themes of belonging/outsiders, politics, religion and war… filtered through the lens of the other-worldly."

Dr Newland's love of literature began with swashbuckling sea stories, pirates and tales of adventure. Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he worked in IT and later ran a hotel.

His taste in literature is eclectic, from literary fiction and fantasy to science fiction, with a special mention for the magical realists and the existentialists. Along the way, he was wooed by the muses of history, both ancient and modern, and then got happily lost in the labyrinths of mythology, religion and philosophy.

His debut novel, The Genes of Isis, is a tale of love, destruction, and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt and tells the secret history of the human race, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

His second is The Old Dragon's Head, a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times. n

The book signing of his third novel will take place at Waterstones on February 29 from 4-5pm.

Find out more about Justine Newland, his novels, short stories and public talks at www.justinnewland.com